2009 Chapoutier, Bila-Haut, Côtes du Roussillon, Occultum Lapidem — Chapoutier is a well-known producer based in the northern Rhône. Established in 1808, they continue to seek new wine regions of promise. One of these is the Roussillon, in southeastern France, near the Spanish border. Here, Michel Chapoutier (a “scout for soil”) found the perfect site to produce wines that express the unique Roussillon terroir, and established Bila-Haut, or “high farm.” His Occultum Lapidem (“hidden gem”) is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan, grown on stony, terraced soil of schist, limestone, and clay. With both Catalonian and French influences, it has aromas of garrigue and spice, with rustic, yet elegant richness and a long finish that begs for more. It is $25 and will drink well over the next four or five years.
2010 Owen Roe, Abbot’s Table — Back in the old shop (next door) we used to order about 15 cases of this wine every year and, stacked up, it became an ever-shrinking display island in the middle of the New World room. The blend varies from year to year, but the wine has always been a shop fave. This vintage has a mere six grapes in the mix: Sangiovese, Blaufränkisch (Lemberger), Zinfandel, Malbec, Syrah, and Merlot, and the combined result is rich and plush, remarkably well knit together, and very stylish. Smooth and spicy, it’s ready to drink already, even in its youth. Winemaker David O’Reilly calls it “A wine for all occasions and all people.” But be advised, 2010 was unusually cool, and production was only about 30% of their normal output. In other words, it won’t last long! It is $22.
2007 Abbey Page, Pinot Noir — 2007 was a challenging vintage in Oregon. A cool growing season followed by rain at harvest time, forced the decision: pick early and have under-ripe fruit, or wait patiently and risk over-saturation. It turns out that patience was rewarded, and now that the 2007 wines have had a chance to develop a bit, they are some of our favorites for their classic Burgundian restraint, and lean elegance. While we have always enjoyed Oregon’s Abbey Page for their budget-friendly under-$10 wines, their Pinot has always hovered around $20. But because they held back this vintage until it was good and ready, they now need to move it to make room for new vintages, so we were able to put it in the club at a cool $13. It’s sleek, flavorful, and ready to drink now. Oh, go ahead and have it with salmon!
2007 Pietrasanta, San Colombano — San Colombano is the only DOC in the province of Milan, in the northern Italian region of Lombardy. Here, the Pietrasanta estate, housed in an ancient mansion dating back to the 17th century, produces wines from estate fruit, grown in the hills along the Po River basin. This wine is a blend of Barbera, with its low tannins and bright acidity; Croatina (confusingly, also known as Bonarda) adding fruitiness and soft tannins; and Merlot. It is fresh and lively, with dark fruit flavors and great structure. Try it with risotto alla Milanese (with saffron), or ossobuco. It’s $14 and, while best enjoyed young, it could cellar for two to three years.
2010 Glatzer, Sauvignon Blanc — Winemaker Walter Glatzer, is described by importer Terry Thiese as, “A miracle. An amazingly nice guy, making sensational wines and offering them at way down-to-earth prices…His wines should be poured by the glass at every restaurant in the universe!” Hyperbole? You be the judge. Glatzer’s estate lies in the Carnuntum region of Austria, east of Vienna, home to one of the most important historic Roman settlements in Austria, a site no doubt chosen for its excellent viticultural potential, with its unique soil and microclimate. 2010 was unusually cool, not optimum for all grapes, but in the case of Glatzer’s Sauv Blanc, it added wonderful depth and minerality. It’s very classic, with a nice flinty edge—a great wine for spicy Asian dishes, fish, or white meat. It’s $18 and apparently only 42 cases came into the states. We were able to get five of them for the club.
2010 Domaine Labbé, Vin de Savoie, Abymes — The Savoie region, in the foothills of the French Alps, near the Swiss border, may not be the first place that comes to mind when we think of French wine. But winemakers here have long been crafting wines, from mostly local varieties, much of which never leaves the country. Thankfully, we are seeing more and more of the delightfully charming wines from this region, such as this white, made from the local grape, Jacquére. Abymes is one of 17 crus in Savoie, taking its name from the word abimé (“broken”), referring to the broken stones from endless avalanches in the Alps, now strewn throughout the vineyards. Fresh and alpine in feel, this wine is aromatic, with racy acidity and notes of white flowers and pear. Perfect for raclette or fondue, of course, it would also be great with grilled white fish or sushi. A great bargain at $12, it will make you think spring!